I love running.
Don’t you dare ask me to throw a ball, swim a lap, or hop on a bike – but running? Running is my thing. I’m not fast, and I’m certainly no expert, but I’ve been running for almost five years now, so I’ve been around the block a time or two. If you were to dig waaay back in the archives, you’d even find that when I picked blogging back up in 2011, I actually wrote mainly to document training for my first half marathon. And even though I don’t write solely about running anymore, I still get lots of emails from readers looking for advice.
When it comes to running, people usually have pretty polarizing opinions. It seems like you either love it, or hate it. And for years, I hated it. I mean, don’t we all remember being forced to run endless laps in school as a form of cruel and unusual punishment? It’s no wonder running gets such a bad rap. But when I arrived in my early twenties a few pounds heavier than I preferred, I hit the pavement. And I eventually fell in love.
So if you don’t love running – I get it. Running doesn’t have to be your thing. But for my readers that are new to running, or even those looking for a place to start, this post is for you!
Find your WHY. First things first – you’ve got to figure out WHY you’re running. What do you hope to get out of it? Are you training for a race? Aiming for weight loss? Stress relief? Just a little more time in nature? Whatever your reason may be – make a goal and clearly define it so you have something to reference when the going gets tough.
Shoes matter. Please, please, PLEASE – invest in a good pair of shoes. Running shoes aren’t cheap, but a good pair can last you up to 500 miles. Just Google running stores in your area and go have your gait analyzed. It’s quick and free, and will make ALL the difference in finding the right shoe for YOU. Even if you aren’t training for a race and are just running recreationally – God gave you two feet and two legs, so take care of them! (For more info on how to tell if it’s time for a new pair, check out THIS article.)
Just remember, a good pair of shoes can save you a LOT of pain later on down the road.
It won’t hurt forever. But it will hurt a little bit. It’s PSA time y’all. Just because running is simple does NOT mean that it’s easy. It’s going to hurt, especially if you’re starting from scratch. Running is not like other exercises. Just because you lift weights or do yoga doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re in “running shape.” You can be in fantastic shape and still have a really tough time with running. On the flip side, I can run ten miles and feel like a million bucks, but if you ask me to do ten lunges, I’ll be crying for days. That’s just the way it goes with exercise. Different activities work different parts of the body, and running is no exception. So in the beginning, expect to be sore! But remember, it won’t last forever.
Take it slow. For goodness’ sake – give yourself a break. If you’re new to running, or getting back in the swing of things, please remember – you’re only human. You’re going to be tired, you’re going to huff and puff. Every run doesn’t have to be a sprint. The last thing you want to do is push yourself too hard and burn out. And if you’re brand-spakin’ new to running, try out a run/walk plan. Before you know if your walk will turn into a jog, your jog into a run, and your run into a sprint. But it’s not a race (yet), so take your time in the beginning. You’ll see progress before you know it.
Listen to your body. It might be hard to tell in the beginning, but there’s a difference between sore and injured. If it’s sore, ice it. If it doesn’t go away, rest it. If it persists, call your doctor. It’s much better to get to the root of the problem now, than to let it linger and wind up seriously hurt.
Find a buddy. Or even better, find a bunch of them! While you’re at your local running store getting fitted for your new shoes (I’m assuming you are already heeding my advice), ask them if they offer any training groups or free social runs. Even if they don’t, they can probably point you in the right direction. And you just might make a new friend.
Having a buddy can keep you accountable on days when you’re feeling lazy, and provide distraction during tough runs. I met my good friend and running pal Karen through the Fort Worth Running Company marathon training program. Even when we aren’t training, we meet up at least once a week for a run, and I can’t imagine making it through 530am hill workouts without her!
If you don’t have a local running store or training group, Facebook is an awesome resource for finding local runners. Try Runner’s Corner. I met my speedwork buddy Brittany through Runner’s Corner, and she has been such an awesome example and encouragement during tough training. (PS – Meet strangers responsibly. You probably shouldn’t meet them at 5am at a deserted track, because murderers and stuff. Well lit and highly populated areas seem like a safer option.)
And if you need help or suggestions, shoot me an email because I’m a wealth of useless information and ALSO MAYBE WE CAN RUN TOGETHER?! Seriously – call me.
Put the donut down. Hi. My name is Natalie, and I gained five pounds while training for a marathon.
WAIT WHAT!? How is that even possible?! Oh, my friends – it is definitely possible. Running is super appealing for weight loss, and for good reason. It’s a quick and simple way to burn a few hundred (or thousand if you’re marathon training!) extra calories in a day. But on the same note, running will make you absolutely ravenous, especially if you’re half marathon or marathon training. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself reaching for the sweets. Or the French fries. Or the pop-tarts. All of it really.
My nutrition FLEW out the window while I was training for Cowtown Marathon. I ate whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted, and my waistline paid the price. So take it from me, and cool it on the junk food. Obviously balance is the goal, so indulge in treats, but try your hardest to not get in lost in the “I ran today, it’s fine!” mentality. I’m still working on that.
One good run can make up for ten bad runs. Is it cheesy? Yes. But is it true? Hell yes. Most runners will tell you that if you find yourself struggling through really crappy runs, it just means a good one is right around the corner. And it’s almost always true. The good ones always seem to outweigh the bad.
And that’s it! 8 super simple tips that I think every new runner should know! And if you’re interested, you can read more about my running story HERE.
So what are your thoughts on running? Love it? Hate it? What are your tips for new runners?